or an artist to consistently create hasher and more unrelenting works with each consecutive release, never missing a step on an escalating scale of auditory violence, they would have to start with twee-pop at around age 86, and if they were lucky they would die off before hitting a string of exponentially self-limiting speaker cone decimating power electronic drones named after serial killers. Yamazaki Maso (under his Masonna moniker) started his career far on the unforgiving end of the spectrum. The brutality of Maso’s music left him, quite literally, physically hurt. Even sonic war criminals need downtime to see visions in the smoke rising from the ruins of their annihilation. Post-Masonna fumes have conjured Space Machine.
When not amplifying the sounds of his bones breaking in realtime, Maso collects vintage analog synthesizers. His collection, and the music he creates with it, (in true B-grade sci-fi tradition) is the Space Machine. If the pics on 3’s cover and sleeve art are in fact said machine, then his horde is drool worthy in the envy syrup extreme. But as the small membered monk once fibbed to the masses: it’s not the size of your stuff, it’s what you do with it. Space Machine doesn’t do much. He hits a key, and pitch shifts it in a green men from Mars manner. This is repeated, and repeated, and repeated... Whole songs consist of single, unchanging pulses. During the first six tracks, this formula is the standard. Rarely have I been this bored. Come on man, twiddle another knob.
Spacemen 3 references are explicit. Space Machine 3—get it. That little Doppler effect icon from The Perfect Prescription is plastered all over Space Machine’s 3. I’m not being facetious, it’s a design element printed on the disc and the cover. This is going to draw a lot of scorn, but Spacemen 3 are the most overrated act ever, and someone photocopying their bland porridge on an old synth makes me dizzy and nauseous in a bad way. Someone please turn off the fluorescent light. Important Records should include a dose or two of oxycontin with every copy. Clearly, Maso was under the influence of some opiate (probably after breaking a rib belly flopping on a distortion pedal during a Masonna performance) during the recording of these pieces. You’d have to be sedated to find them enjoyable. If his intention was to warp our consciousness by massaging our spinal cords in the same minimal vein as Coil’s unrivaled Time Machines, he has failed miserably. As opposed to achieving an air of ethereal spirituality (hard to do anyway without sounding silly), he achieves an abrasive, tongue-in-cheek artificiality.
Lucky for us, 3 is a two LP set, with the second LP (or final track on the CD version) being a forty minute Space Machine live set where Maso is joined by Kawabata Makoto and Nakaya Kouichi. Existing as a self-contained whole, the set is a more enjoyable listen. The echoing synthesizers are doubled up and Makoto provides guitar drones. Any of the latter’s Acid Mothers Temple dronewerks are comparable experiences. Or, considering at their best AMT achieve a mediocre krautrock, maybe Germany in the 70’s should be my reference point. Either way, it’s a tolerable cloud of slow moving psychedelia that saves the album from the waste bin.
Reviewed by: Bryan Neil Jones
Reviewed on: 2004-04-26